Consumer-owned utilities (COUs)–where the ratepayers own the utility rather than corporate shareholders–have been providing reliable electricity to customers across America for decades. Over 2000 COUs serve 49 million customers in the U.S. Maine’s 9 COUs charge their customers significantly less on average for much better service than Maine’s investor-owned utilities CMP and Versant provide.

Benefits of Consumer-Owned Utilities

COUs often outperform investor-owned utilities (IOUs) because of one essential difference: IOUs serve their shareholders while COUs serve their ratepayer/owners.

Click on each of the benefits listed below to learn more details about why COUs are a better choice for customers:

  • Mainers served today by consumer-owned electric utilities pay 58% less on average than customers of investor-owned CMP and Versant!
  • Investor-owned utilities are run to maximize profits for shareholders while consumer-owned utilities serve the interests of the ratepayers.
  • A nonprofit consumer-owned utility can borrow money at much lower rates than a private for-profit corporation–savings which can be passed on the ratepayers.
Maine COU vs. IOU Rates 2020
  • Maine ratepayers stand to save over $9 billion over 30 years by replacing CMP and Versant with a consumer-owned utility:
Annual and Cumulative Savings to Maine Ratepayers Graph
According to a comprehensive analysis by Dr. Richard Silkman in 2020, a consumer-owned electric utility would save Maine ratepayers over $9 billion over 30 years.

  • Maine has the most frequent power outages in the whole country thanks to CMP and Versant, and the second longest power outages
  • Frequent and prolonged power outages cost Maine businesses money, discourage expansions and new businesses, disrupt and harm residents, and jeopardize public safety
  • Mainers served by consumer-owned utilities have less frequent and shorter outages than CMP and Versant customers
  • As of 2016, there were just six U.S. communities whose electricity was 100% renewable (Greensburg, Kansas; Georgetown, Texas; Kodiak Island, Alaska; Rock Port, Missouri; Aspen, Colorado; and Burlington, Vermont). What do they have in common? All six have consumer-owned utilities.
  • COUs are leading the way in reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change: for example, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) aims to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2030
  • CMP has actively hampered renewable energy expansion efforts in Maine
  • Modernizing and enhancing our grid as we shift transportation and heating energy from carbon fuels to electricity requires heavy investment–a nonprofit COU has access to low-cost capital that IOUs don’t; and IOUs choose what to invest in based on projected returns, not the public interest.
  • COUs are accountable to their owner/customers while IOUs serve the interests of corporate shareholders
  • IOUs typically view customer service as an easy place to cut corners and save expenses, as Mainers experienced with CMP’s epic and ongoing billing fiasco
  • CMP’s has been rated the worst utility in the U.S. for customer satisfaction 3 years running by JD Power; Versant isn’t much better, ranking nearly as low.
JD Power 2020 Customer Satisfaction Survey for Utilities

More Details on Consumer-owned utilities:

Consumer-owned utilities in Maine

Maine has a history of locally-owned electric, water and telephone utilities. Currently part or all of 97 of Maine’s 488 communities are served by consumer-owned electric utilities, or COUs: